“In the hands of a designer who knows how to command composition on a purely visual level, and who can conceptually select and manipulate content, an image is by far the most profound communication tool available.”

  1. Image “mode” is determined by the designer based on emotional qualities of the content, the number of messages to be differentiated, expectations of the audience, and production issues.
  2. How “mediated” an image is can be evaluated based on how realistic its physical interpretation is, or how complex vs. literal the messaging is.
  3. Semiology: The anthropological field of studying what signs symbolize.
  4. The medium carries meaning in terms of feeling (softness, hardness, fluidity, and stiffness) and concept.
  5. The directness of photography allows the viewer to digest the information more quickly, accepting it as “real” and processing mediated elements on a secondary level.
  6. Any time a letter or word takes on pictorial qualities, it becomes an image in itself and creates a “supersign” with new levels of complexity.
  7. Image styles need contrast as well as demonstrate some similarity in order to achieve a unified message.
  8. Semantic Content: Conceptual, verbal, and emotional messages that are not literally represented in the subject.
  9. The moment two images are juxtaposed, the viewer will try to establish a meaningful connection between the two. Every photograph influences the others around it.
  10. Some ways to establish visual metaphor are by (1) using an object to define the form of something else, (2) depicting one thing acting like another, or (3) combining seemingly unrelated images to create a new meaning.


  1. “Stylistic uniformity discourages distraction during the reading process.”
  2. The goal in spacing letters is to have a rhythm between solid and void, but the primary difficulty is that letters have different densities. Computers have built in programming to correct spacing or “kerning” between letters, but the designer will need to make corrections sometimes too.
  3. Spacing must change at different sizes to allow for character recognition and improve legibility at smaller fonts.
  4. Any typeface becomes more neutral when something more stylized appears next to it.
  5. Contrast among typefaces that are juxtaposed is critical to achieving clarity, and helping the reader to categorize the information.
  6. Alignment: Centered-axis text is traditional and justified text reinforces geometry on the page.
  7. Methods of indicating a new paragraph include a line return, an indent, a bold lead line, or a graphic object.
  8. Typographic Color: Deals only with changes in lightness or darkness, and impacts the rhythm and texture of a page. Larger chunks of type come forward on the page, while lighter chunks recede into the background.
  9. Visual Hierarchy: Can be distinguished using changes in size, weight, alignment, rhythm, spacing, width or posture, orientation, gray value, or background contrast.
  10. Viewers will assume that even contrasting text elements are related to each other, so there must be an overarching unity to design choices.


  1. Hue describes the identity of the color, saturation is it intensity, value describes its darkness or lightness, and temperature is a subjective quality related to our experience of hot and cold. All are subjectively impacted when compared with adjacent colors.
  2. Color values can affect the reading hierarchy of the text. The element with the greatest value contrast will be read or seen first.
  3. Hue Relationships: The closer together the hues appear on the wheel, the more harmonious or related. The farther apart, the more contrasted.
  4. Analogous colors are adjacent to each other on the wheel, and primarily feature a temperature difference. Complementary colors are opposite of each other on the wheel. Triadic colors are 120 degrees apart from each other on the wheel.
  5. Extension: The volume of a given color needed to support the presence of another color depends on the wavelength and intensity.
  6. VALUE RELATIONSHIPS: Regardless of hue, all colors will have a relative relationship to each other in terms of lightness and darkness. Manipulating this relationship allows the designer to create rhythm and visual hierarchy.
  7. Cool colors appear to recede in space, while warm colors appear to advance. Of the primary colors, blue will recede and yellow will advance, while red stays in the middle.
  8. When working with limited color systems, choosing them based on deeper saturation and closer value allows for a wider range of possible combinations and potential contrast.
  9. Color Psychology: Warmer colors require more energy to process them through the eye and the brain, causing a rise in metabolic rate. Cooler colors require less energy to process, causing a lowering of metabolic rate.
  10. Manipulating color changes the feeling of images, and the designer must anticipate what the viewer will experience.


  1. Beauty: The definition of “beauty” in graphic design is best be described by using the words “resolved” or “decisive,” indicating that the presence of beauty is found in something which exhibits confidence, credibility, and purpose.
  2. The Shape of Space: A vertical format of a square is more confrontational than a horizontal format, and a square format is neutral.
  3. The Dot: The dot is not necessarily a circular shape, but anything with a recognizable center which serves as an anchor and reference point for the eye. It is a fundamental building block of design, and it’s relation to other forms plays a complex role in ascribing meaning to the design.
  4. The Line: A line represents dynamic movement, so the manipulation of length, weight, repetition, angle, and overlap are all methods of enhancing meaning in images.
  5. Plane and MassA plane or a mass is simply a large dot whose outer edge has become more important to the shape, and interacts with the negative space surrounding it.
  6. Geometric vs. Organic Form: A form is considered geometric if its outer edge seems mathematically regularized, while an organic form has a more irregular or textured edge.
  7. Static and Dynamic: The best way to ensure a dynamic design is to vary the proportions of spaces between forms and format edges. When the proportions are too similar, you are left with a static image.
  8. Strategy for Arranging Form: A few strategies for arranging forms include; side-to-side spacing, back/foreground placement, and static/dynamic shape juxtaposition.
  9. Activating Space: Sometimes a space can begin to feel inactive, or disengaged from the rest of the image. To counteract that, the designer needs to force other spaces in the image to communicate with that part of the composition.
  10. Proportional Sections: Methods for arrangement can be intuitive, or they can utilize the Rule of Thirds, Musical Logic, Mathematical Logic, and the Golden Section, which are more mathematical ways of designing proportionate images.


1. Use two typeface families maximum.

Typeface always serves a specific purpose. In order to make my message clear and understandable to the viewer, I need to decide what purpose I want the type to serve and then choose the most effective option.

2. Use the one-two punch.

This is a principle which is familiar to me from photography; whatever is the biggest or brightest object inside the frame will draw the viewers’ eyes first. So in design, I can intentionally place elements that will capture the viewers’ eyes, and then follow up with details that complete the message.

3. Pick colors on purpose.

I am excited to start learning more about the significance of colors and their impact on visual hierarchy. I know what colors I personally like, but I don’t know WHY yet, and that intrigues me.

4. Treat the type as image, as though it’s just as important.

Everything within the frame of a designed image has been placed their for a specific reason. I never thought about the fact that type is as much a vital element as everything else. This encourages me to get more creative with my manipulation and integration of text and typeface.

5. Be universal; remember that it’s not about you.

This is an important concept–design is created with an audience in mind. It is not just about self-expression and messing around in Photoshop, but it is about communicating with people and achieving a goal. This mentality will add a fun aspect of problem solving as I figure out new ways to effectively reach the viewers.

6. Measure with your eyes: design is visual.

I never would have guessed that this is a rule, but it makes complete sense. Shapes create optical illusions sometimes, even if they are mathematically aligned, so it is better to trust my own eyes than the ruler.

7. Create images–don’t scavenge.

I’m really excited to incorporate some of my own photography in this class and try executing designs from scratch.

8. Ignore fashion. Seriously.

My temptation this year will be to go out and copy things floating around on the internet on cute Pinterest pages. Instead, I would like to develop the skill of targeting the meaning behind a project, and then finding the right visual vocabulary to express it.

9. Squish and separate.

Not only does contrast need to occur between light and dark, big and small, but also between an interplay of density and rhythm. The language of a “pulse” or a “rhythm” to image is a little foreign to me, but I’m trying to figure it out. How does this work exactly?

10. Symmetry is the ultimate evil.

I love this rule, but it also scares the heck out of me because it means I can’t just rely on the center axis anymore. Asymmetry, as I learned in a class last year, is actually a characteristic of beauty. For example, no human face is perfectly symmetrical–we all have a tiny quirk or a “flaw” that throws off the balance and affirms our realness. Perfect symmetry creates a feeling of falseness because it is too robotic. Anyway, I am looking forward to learning how to craft asymmetrical images in an aesthetically pleasing way.